Monday, April 09, 2007

Orwell's Insight

I have been reading George Orwell's '1984': such insight and genius. His commentary on the nature of political thought, written in the '40s, is possibly even more relevant today. From chapter 9:
"Even the humblest Party member is expected to be competent, industrious and even intelligent within narrow limits, but it is also necessary that he should be a credulous and ignorant fanatic whose prevailing moods are fear, hatred, adulation and orgiastic triumph. In other words it is necessary that he should have the mentality appropriate to a state of war. It does not matter whether or not the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory is possible, whether the war is going well or badly. All that is needed is that a state of war should exist. The splitting of the intelligence which the Party requires of its members, and which is more easily achieved in an atmosphere of war, is now almost universal, but the higher up the ranks one goes, the more marked it becomes. It is precisely in the Inner Party that war hysteria and hatred of the enemy are strongest. In his capacity as an administrator, it is often necessary for a member of the Inner Party to know that this or that item of war news is untruthful, and he may often be aware that the entire war is spurious and is either not happening or is being waged for reasons quite other than the declared ones: but such knowledge is easily neutralised by the technique of doublethink."

- Winston Smith, reading Emmanuel Goldstein's banned book "The Theory And Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism"

Sound familiar? Instead of "Party", try reading "Church" or (particularly in the US) "Administration".


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